Happiness and the pursuit of myself
The swiftly approaching holidays were something I was very much looking forward to this year. They were to be celebrated in truer fashion than last year, thanks to Covid’s extremely rude imposition on the lives of billions of people, and Christmas is an occasion I quite enjoy. The rapid spread of the Omicron variant, which is more infectious than plain old Covid-19, has essentially nixed any elaborate Christmas or New Years plans for me (and countless others) this year, and has done so quite abruptly before said holidays.
I could be upset. Last year, I certainly would have been upset. I would have been livid. But the me of last year is not the me of this year, and I cannot exaggerate how starkly different the two of me are.
I spent at least half of this year in mental anguish over a person whose role in my life became all-consuming. This person was someone I had befriended years before while at university, and for whom I had long carried a torch but had never had the guts to approach. He reached out to me in September of 2020 and we rekindled our friendship which had seen a quieter spell than usual. That rekindling led to a sparking of a romantic relationship, and one that became beyond important to me. In my eyes, this man was handsome, friendly, funny, intelligent, kind, considerate, generous, loving, affectionate, etc. The list could go on for ages.
As our relationship progressed, his shortcomings became clearer to me, as did my own. He was dishonest. He exaggerated some things and downplayed others. He was userous of me and other women in his life, past and present. He was a master at convincing me I was important to him while we were together, and strung me along while he grew further from what we had started. I should have been more assertive. I should have set solid boundaries and stood up for myself, but because of how I viewed this man and how poor my own self esteem has historically been, I allowed boundaries to be pushed, crossed, and dismissed. I agreed to things I shouldn’t have agreed to. Principal among these things was to remain sexually connected while not in a relationship.
That arrangement annihilated my security, my sense of self, and my willingness to stand up for myself at all. I reached a painfully low point in my life, unable to maintain any sort of balance in my life. I was a disaster, and considered suicide over my disappointment with myself and desperation to be free of it. I was reactive and angry one moment and sobbing the next. In combination with the lasting physical and mental effects of having had Covid in March and April of 2020, the breakdown of that relationship left me in shambles, and I hadn’t the willpower or the means to do anything about the desperately unhappy situation I had created.
I decided after many extended conversations with friends that I should go talk with a psychologist. Given that I was working three days a week, making barely above minimum wage, therapy was an expensive option to pursue. However, the idea of letting my situation get any worse was completely abhorrent, and if I was going to be poor anyway, I might as well spend some of my money trying to make things better. I began seeing my psychologist Joshua in June, and it was the single best decision of my adult life. Seeing a therapist was finally getting that constructive feedback I wanted from my friends and family but could never elicit because (duh) they aren’t trained mental health professionals. That voice to give you perspective and encourage you to do what’s healthy and reasonable rather than allowing that anxiety-driven inner voice to dominate. I have never been more grateful for a decision in my life, truly.
There have been many other important sources of support for me during this past span of time. My coworkers have provided a friendly, welcoming space for me to occasionally discuss my troubles while they listen with compassion as we plant seeds or harvest plants. My extended family has supported me with their hearts and with funding to continue my therapy, as I can no longer afford it on my own. A family friend offered me mentorship over this past summer, a place to discuss long term goals and how to achieve them. I’d never had such a person in my life before, ad I am eternally grateful for their presence and help. My friends have been an untold wealth of support. They have opened their hearts and their homes to me. They have taken me for dinners, they have had me over for chats that run long into the night, they have just hugged me for as long as I needed it. They have sent me money and tiny gardening tools and cards and stickers and a plethora of cute and funny things to keep me afloat.
I would not be here today without these support mechanisms and networks. I had spent a long time isolating myself and feeling guilty for my feelings and my circumstances, and I realized that sharing my life with others, no matter the nature of the relationship, is what gives me purpose. To get to know people, to share moments, smiles, and kisses, to watch fireworks explode overhead and to listen to the buzz of insects in the hot sun. To feel connected is to be alive. Those connections and that feeling has to be fostered and you need to make the effort for it to happen in your own life. It will not magically fall I your lap, no matter how hard you wish for it to happen.
I worked hard this year to better myself, and I think it’s fair for me to be proud of that. I know the progress I have made is enormous, and my outlook on my own life and my role in making things happen how I want them to happen has shifted beyond recognition.
This year, the holidays will be different again, but I will be damned if I allow that to make me feel shitty. I am now ferocious in my defense of my own happiness, and I will not allow a global plague and the handling of it by governments and assholes the world over to fuck with it.